Manufacturing structurally integrated three dimensional phased array antennas

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Pine, Shannon Robert
Colton, Jonathan S.
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A phased array antenna differs from a conventional antenna, such as a dish antenna, in that it coherently adds radiation from multiple radiating elements instead of mechanical positioning to direct RF energy. When transmitting and receiving information from a source while in motion, a phased array antenna can continuously adjust its signal to focus on the source. New antenna designs focus on integrating phased array antennas into the structure of the antenna platform, as advanced antenna platforms require the antenna to take up less and less real estate. With further development of phased array antennas, new designs become increasingly complex. The manufacturing techniques to facilitate the integration of complex antenna designs into the structure of an antenna platform must be developed, as traditional manufacturing operations, such as injection molding, machining and bulk deformation processes, are not well suited to create the small details and complex three dimensional lattice designs of the antennas. Innovative solutions need to be developed that allow the manufacture of complex antennas, thereby enabling testing to be performed on actual devices. The results from testing physical models can buttress analytical models and lead to better antenna designs. This work developed and studied suitable methods for manufacturing three-dimensional, structurally-integrated antennas.
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